Thursday, May 07, 2009

Evacuation Vacation

Really, I could write a book about this shit. How to pack an entire house of valuables and memories in less than 10 minutes when threatened with evacuation.

Yes, it is just 'stuff', and trust me when I was finally reunited with Lucy in a parking lot on the corner of State and Las Positas yesterday afternoon, flames screaming towards the sky behind us, I didn't need telling what the most important things were. 

However, having been evacuated from our home twice in the last six months (and we pay a premium to live here - are we fucking insane?) I can say that there's stuff and there's stuff. Toothbrush, passports, birth certificates etc are all fine but when you're lying in a friends bed wondering if your house is on fire, that's when you go 'oh crap, I wish I'd packed that photo of my Dad and brother instead of all of Anna's pairs of pink shoes'.

My assistant lost her house in the fires yesterday. When we spoke yesterday afternoon before we both bolted from work she gave me the best piece of advice I've ever received about being evacuated in a hurry:

Pack your laundry basket. Don't stand in front of your wardrobe wasting valuable time looking for that pair of pin-striped work trousers, and that top you always wear them with, which necessitates that bra and those shoes. Get a black bin bag and tip your entire washing basket in there. Those are the clothes you wear all the time and the clothes you will miss the most.

Unfortunately her fiance had to run to get out of his house before it burnt and they lost everything.

Other good advice? Don't drive over the speed limit, on your cell phone, looking at the fire, eyes blinded by tears because the fucking Sheriff has blocked the road to your daughter's preschool and then swear at the police do an exaggerated one-handed u-turn and try and remember a sneaky back roads route to Hollister - because that's exactly what everyone else is doing and you need to pay attention to them because they are surely going to kill you a lot faster than that fire.


headbang8 said...

A great relief that you're all safe, and my heart goes out to your friends and colleagues.

I own a house in Victoria, Australia that marrowly escaped destruction in 2006, and missed out on the terrible fires earlier this year.

The answer? I have just sold it.

Even if you leave no sentimental items, family photos or valuables, there's the sheer pain of the dislocation, the memories, the care that you lavished on the place, getting it just so. Too heartbreaking.

Nimble said...

I'm glad you're out. I hope your house is missed by the flames this time too. I imagine the panic of driving away from the fire -- eek.

Ali said...

I'm so glad you are all okay. I saw the bushfires on the news last night and thought of you. How terrifying to not be able to get to the girls. I hope your house remains intact. So scary.

Little Britainer said...

So glad you are all ok. And so amazed you can keep such a sense of humour after all that.

Julia said...


I just read this aloud to my husband and I got teary as I got to the part about not being able to get to the preschool - nightmare. I wake up from dreams like that and I am so sorry you lived through it. Very glad everyone is together again.

Kristin said...

How scary! Every part of it. It sounds awful. I hope you can get back into your house soon. My husband desperately wants to move us to CA (we live in the cold and snowy Midwest). I will have to show him your blog for another perspective!

Eden Kennedy Onassis said...


Jane said...

So glad you're all safe. I was wondering whether you'd had to evacuate again when I saw it on the news up here in the NW. Hope you never have to go through that 'special' kind of mum terror again.

Expat mum said...

Phew! But why DO you live there? Mind you, people ask me the same thing about Chicago in the middle of the winter!

Hyphen Mama said...

SO glad it turned out okay. The part about not being able to get to the preschool would be my undoing.

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